Feb 2, 2017

The Trump Administration's war on labor statistics

Donald Trump spent much time during his campaign calling the official unemployment rate a "hoax," arguing that "real unemployment" was as much as 40%. These claims had little basis in fact, but they fit the Trumpian narrative that the economy was in disarray.

Friday jobs: The real statistics say the unemployment rate is at historically low levels. Tomorrow's report on new job growth will likely reinforce the strength of the labor market. The forecast is 175,000 new jobs and a 4.7% unemployment rate.

Alternative measures: Even broader measures of the unemployment rate show dramatic improvement in the jobs situation, and levels of unemployment nowhere near 40%.

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Data: Bureau of Labor Statistics; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon / Axios

Why it matters: Investors and researchers rely heavily on government data, but the Trump Administration has shown antipathy for stats that contradict his world view. Tomorrow's jobs report will be the first of the Trump administration. Watch to see if the White House plays down good news to bolster the narrative of an economy needing saving.

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